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Garran argued strongly for what became the Australian National University (ANU), supporting it from its earliest days.

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Sir Robert Garran

National Library of Australia

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Robert Garran (1867–1957)

Federalist and Commonwealth public servant

Garran was a clever young lawyer in Sydney who joined Edmund Barton's Federation League. He wrote books on Federation and attended the important conferences of federalists at Corowa and Bathurst. He went to the 1897–98 Federal Convention as secretary to the New South Wales premier George Reid, who allowed him to work with Barton on writing the constitution. At the Federation referendums, he worked on the campaign for a 'Yes' vote. With his friend John Quick, whom he met at Corowa, he produced a history of the Federation movement and a guide to the new constitution. It was published in 1900 and is still being used.

On 1 January 1901 he became the first Commonwealth public servant to write the documents announcing that the Commonwealth now existed, and took them to get printed in the first Commonwealth Gazette. He was in charge of writing the Bills that parliament was to pass, and did this in plain English so that they could be easily understood. He remained a public servant, moving to Canberra in 1927 when it became the capital.